Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Las Vegas showgirl of Christmas trees

It has plumes. It has feathers. It has glittery decorations. What else has plumes, feathers, and glittery decorations? Hint:

Except this tree is such overkill that it makes Vegas showgirls look sedate by comparison. Just sayin' ;).

-- Badtux the Christmas Penguin

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

As usual on Christmas, here is (a very spastic) Lady Gaga!

-- Badtux the Snarky Music Penguin

Saturday, December 24, 2011

No posting December 24-January 1

Taking a break... well, other than my Christmas tradition ;).

-- Badtux the Christmas Penguin

Friday, December 23, 2011

California blues

Canadian singer-songwriter Kathleen Edwards, "Goodbye California", off her 2008 album Asking for Flowers. She's supposed to have an album, Voyageur, out in January. I'll try to track down some songs from it and feature them here.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Hot rock

Sonic Youth, "Incinerate", off of their 2006 album Rather Ripped. Pay attention to Steve Shelley's drums back there -- not your standard rock drums, he's every bit as innovative as the guitar players, yet Lee and Thurston got all the notice...

Sadly, Sonic Youth is no more. Thurston Moore and Kim Gordon divorced in October, and plans for an album are pretty much over too.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

'Tis the Season

Today was the winter solstice, where the day quits dying and starts rising from the dead again. I am decorating my Jeep with evergreen branches as we speak, evergreen branches (or entire trees) being a symbol of the rebirth of the year long-predating Christianity on this most holy of days, when the day quits dying and starts growing again. Well, actually they’re plastic “Christmas” wreaths zip-tied to the grill and spare tire on the rear tailgate, but same difference, right?

Oh yeah, that whole year being born thing is why the Christians decided to celebrate the birth of their Christ on the same day despite the fact that there would be no flocks in the fields of Bethlehem at this time of year (too dang cold!). Birth of sun in the new year = birth of Christ, dig? But the holiday long predates Christianity, as any Wiccan could tell you :).

-- Badtux the Holiday Penguin

Too little, too late

One of the most important jobs of a central bank in possession of a printing press is to act as a lender of last resort when there is a run on the other banks in the nation. I.e., it is literally physically impossible for a central bank to run out of money, so if a bank with typical reserve ratio of 20% suddenly has 40% of its customers show up wanting their money, it's the central bank's job to trade freshly printed cash for the long-term loans on the member bank's books, then soak the cash back up as the long-term loan gets repaid.

The Federal Reserve, to its credit, did that in the 2007 credit crisis here in the United States. The Fed accepted trash for cash to the tune of over $1.5B, or roughly 6% of the outstanding loans in the USA. But the European Central Bank did not. The Fed did an indirect bailout of some of the most important European banks by trading cash for trash, but nowhere near what would be necessary to re-float those banks -- only enough to keep U.S. insurers of those banks solvent, because the Federal Reserve's charter is to serve the USA, not Europe.

The end result in Europe is deflation, and as I've mentioned here before, deflation is the same thing as debt inflation -- that is, your debts are rising and rising and rising in value until they finally reach the point at which they cannot be repaid, a point which has arrived for far too many Europeans and even entire European countries. There's a term for what happens after that: circling the drain, as debtors default, banks collapse, cause further deflation, causing *more* debtors to default, wash, rinse, repeat, swirling down down down with less and less currency in circulation (it's disappearing under mattresses) until entire economies are reduced to barter, probably the most inefficient method of conducting business, like, evah.

So it's good that the ECB *finally* is stepping forward to do their own trash for cash to keep European banks from collapsing. On the other hand, the ECB is run by Germans, and a good percentage of the banks owed money by the countries on the verge of default are German banks, so it may be that they finally simply didn't have a choice but to do the minimum needed to keep the whole Eurozone from circling the drain into the Barterzone.

But note the *size* of this loan program: less than half the size of the Fed's loan program in 2007, despite the fact that the Eurozone's combined economies are approximately the same size as the USA's economy. Too little. And four years too late.

My suggestion to Europeans (other than the British, who avoided the Euro madness): Turnips. Seriously. When the Soviet ruble collapsed with the nation that created it, turnips were the currency of choice for much of Russia because they're durable, useful (if you have too many turnips you can ferment them to make vodka, even!), and not dependent upon a central bank to make the decision to create them. What, you say this is daft? Well, no more daft than those silly people who collect shiny-colored metal in hopes that it will have value after the Euro collapses. You can eat turnips. You can't eat gold.

-- Badtux the Snarky Economics Penguin

Coal miner's lament

The trio of women is Red Molly. They're singing "Coal Tattoo", a song by country songwriter Billy Edd Wheeler who, like yesterday's artist, Guy Clark, never managed to sell many of his own albums (1964's Memories of America is his only album that charted) but wrote one helluva lot of songs over his lifetime. The youngsters do it justice.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Quick hits

Tiny Kim apparently has the support of the security services, which has now sent a number of senior Party officials tiptoeing through the tulips. Seems Tiny Kim ain't as dim as he might have seemed from his early appearances and isn't going to be tiptoeing through the tulips himself anytime soon -- or turnips either, given the abysmal yield of North Korean agriculture over the past couple of decades.

Gratuitous video of new North Korean dictator:

In other news, Newt the Gingrinch appears to think he's running for President of North Korea, what with basically proposing to take judges who rule in ways he don't like out behind the barn and shoot'em in the head or somethin'. The sad part is that there's a large contingent of Americans who break out in giant shit-eatin' grins at the very thought, who have no problem with the notion of living under a North Korean style dictatorship, as long as it's *their* dictator.

Who are the 1% and what do they do for a living? Hint: It ain't work in the way you and I think of work.

Regulations are not a huge jobs killer. Like, duh. If there's demand for my product I don't give a shit about what regulations I have to comply with, I'm gonna hire folks to produce more product.

50% of Americans are too poor to pay Federal income taxes, but they still pay plenty of other taxes, starting with the 15% payroll tax that the 1% (who don't work for a living, they "invest" for a living and don't earn income, they earn "capital gains") don't pay.

The wealth gap, graphically. It ain't a pretty picture.

Why haven't any of these Wall Street fraudsters gone to prison yet, again? Oh wait, because they're "job creators" in some alternate universe where unicorns are pink and cotton candy grows on trees. Alrighty, then!

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Happy birthday, Guy

Most people have never heard of Guy Clark, but in the music business he is a legend. His own albums never sold, but he has built a reputation amongst musicians as a songwriter's songwriter. And now he is 70 years old.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Monday, December 19, 2011

Quick hits

71-year-old man drives 225 miles with dead wife in passenger seat beside him. He didn't know what to do without his wife to tell him what to do.

How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake? Apparently you just order him to go out on patrol, and he follows orders. So now John Kerry knows the answer to his question.

Over the past four years, the monetary base has been tripled. According to Austrian economists, this means we should be going Weimar, and should have been going Weimar for at least a couple of years. According to Keynesian economists, tripling the monetary base when you're in a liquidity trap will have no (zero) effect. So, uhm... who's right? (Hint: Krugman is right. Of course.)

Soldiers are having trouble feeding their families, and can't find jobs after they're mustered out of service, having a harder time than non-veterans even. America supports our troops, woot!

Yet more evidence of the shrinking middle class. Soon there will be only the filthy rich and the abjectly poor. Serfin' USA, dude!

- Badtux the Hits Penguin

Cat sauna

The bathroom is the warmest room in my house because that tile floor has an old-fashioned grout base and thus absorbs / radiates the heat that's coming out from under the vanity. Some of that heat from under the vanity also manages to waft its way upwards in the cabinet and heat up the bowl of the bathroom sink. The result: Well, you see the result here.

Especially note the decorative help that The Mighty Fang (for I know it was him, even though I didn't see him do it) lent his sauna. Every cat sauna needs shredded paper confetti to give it a festive look, right? Right?!

But that's okay, TMF is so ridiculously adorable that I can't be angry at him. Here's proof of how adorable he is:

-- Badtux the Cat-owned Penguin

Raging sea

This is Laura Marling, "All My Rage", off her new album A Creature I Don't Know. Laura is a British singer-songwriter who is part of a London scene sometimes called "nu folk". She tries for an Irish sea shanty here and manages something interesting.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Idiot of the Week, War on Christmas edition

San Jose city manager Debra Figone, who said to city council members who wanted her to send a Holiday greeting to city workers thanking them for their hard work over the past year, "don't send an image of the City Hall Christmas tree, we try not to favor one religion over another."

Uhm, say what? The evergreen tree as a symbol of the rebirth of the year at winter solstice predates Christianity by centuries. WTF is with Figone having a problem with it? None of my Jewish friends have a problem with "holiday trees", harumph! The Holiday being celebrated is winter solstice, where the days start growing longer instead of growing shorter and the rebirth of the year is celebrated. The holiday long predates Christianity and is celebrated by most major religions on the planet in one form or another. Christianity decided to celebrate the birth of Christ (according to their scriptures actually born in summer while sheep were in the fields) on this holiday (birth of year = birth of Christ, dig?) but they're a johnny-come-lately on the scene.

-- Badtux the Baffled-by-ignorance Penguin

Why banjo players are always tuning

This lament from a beginning banjo player: "I ordered the clawhammer for complete ignoramous book (apparently I am one) and this book which I thought was a beginner book and would use standard tuning starts out with 10 songs in double C tuning followed by 10 more in Sawmill tuning and then six in G tuning (four of which I already know) then on to C minor tuning cumberland Gap tuning (can't it be played in G?) and on and on. Really?"

So now you know why any bluegrass band seems to spend more time waiting for the banjo player to tune up than they spend playing and why banjo players spend half their life tuning and the other half playing out of tune ;).

-- Badtux the Tongue-in-cheek Music Penguin

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Little Kim and the Jeep

I spent most of today getting my ham radio installed in my new Jeep, which involved pulling the antenna wire from the back of the Jeep to the front of the Jeep, finding a place to mount the amp unit, then getting power to it. Then I spent most of the evening rearranging my garage because doing the electrical work showed that my electrical tool/supply box was completely out of control (as in, it ended up all over my garage because I had the stuff to do the work but it was buried in this box full of *stuff*), only to come in and find that Dear Leader has died. Not to be confused with Hopey Changey.

One wonders what the new leader of North Korea is going to do. The only long term hope for North Korea is reunification with South Korea, but the South Koreans are scared to death of such a thing... it took a decade for Germany's economy to recover from the reunification with East Germany, and East Germany was in far better shape than North Korea, which is a complete and utter basket case.

-- Badtux the Busy Penguin

Dark side

Eliza Gilkyson, "Dark Side of Town", off her 2007 album Your Town Tonight.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin


We won in Iraq. Which is why our last troops in Iraq sneaked out to Kuwait at 2AM without telling anybody.

So victory is celebrated nowadays by sneaking out at night, not by a big celebration and victory parade as you exit triumphantly? Gosh, things sure have changed over the last 70 years!

- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

If this is what victory looks like, what would defeat look like? Just askin!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

I need to learn how to read Korean

The English translation on the bag of potstickers said "Kimchi potstickers". I assumed they were stuffed with some pickled Korean vegetables. Instead, it's a tasty mix of some sort of meat with tasty Korean vegetables. What kind of meat? I dunno, I can't read the Korean labeling!

So anyhow, that was my supper tonight -- steamed "kimchi potstickers" and tasty Korean veggies. Yum!

-- Badtux the Potstickered Penguin

Spirited Love

Noisy London indie group The Duke Spirit with "Lassoo" off their 2008 album Neptune. Oh alright, I gotta say Liela Moss is a stunner as well as being a better-than-decent singer. What can I say, I'm male.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Rats are more empathetic than Republicans

When a rat hears another rat in distress, that rat will immediately go to help the rat in distress. Furthermore, if they had a chocolate treat, they'd share that treat with the rat that they helped.

So what happens when a Republican sees someone in distress? Well, the first thing they do is ignore the person in distress. See previous post. Next, if they're feeling particularly generous, they might install a switch to allow the person in distress to escape his trap -- a switch which is *outside* the trap, which the person caught in the trap can't reach (e.g., offering mental health services to the mentally ill... out of reach of the person *inside* the trap of mental illness). But that's the end of any empathy. Past that point, it's "get a job, bum!" or "it's your own fault you got caught in a trap, don't whine to me for help!" and a shrug of the shoulder and move on. And if the cries of distress on the part of those caught in the trap become too disturbing, they dispatch the popo to beat the shit out of those in distress in order to shut up that annoying whining from people who are dying. Because as far as lizard people from planet Sociopath are concerned, human beings are just another kind of vermin, and if vermin makes untoward noise, well. Beat it until it's no longer capable of making noise, right?

Sad, isn't it, that rats are more empathetic than a large percentage of Americans?

-- Badtux the "Guess I have more in common with rats than I thought!" Penguin

It's that time of year again

61 nameless dead. Often mentally ill, ignored during life, spat upon, despised by all but a few, who died young and early of "natural causes" (I guess starvation, exposure, and disease are "natural" but so it goes). Here this year's dead homeless people, homeless people in one of the wealthiest regions of the country, a region with millions of square feet of vacant commercial space at any given time, are given names (click image to embiggen, and pay attention to the age at which those whose age we know died):

-- Badtux the Sombre Penguin

R.I.P. Hitch

Christopher Eric Hitchens (13 April 1949 – 15 December 2011), dead of cancer, and no, no deathbed conversion to Christianity -- something he'd been worried about as the cancer ate into his body, causing enormous pain. Oddly enough, one of the best obituaries I've read was in World Nut Daily by one of the Christian Taliban true believers who debated him in one of those Christian-vs-atheist debates. Who of course was appalled by Hitch but also somewhat admiring of the way Hitch stood by his principles even to the death when it came to that whole religion thing.

As for Hitch's switch to pro-war political views after 9/11, the less said about that the better, I'm sure most of the lefty blogosphere's all down on that. All I'll say is that the man was a damn fine writer, even at the end and leave it at that.

-- Badtux the Obituaries Penguin

Friday, December 16, 2011

New Mac

I got a new Mac so I'm busy playing with it. There's evil shit happening in the world but I don't feel like talking about any of it right now. Go entertain yourself by playing in the middle of a freeway or somethin', yo!

-- Badtux the Rudely Busy Penguin

Keeping warm

There is a furnace output that comes out under the vanity there and the tile floor is one of those old school ones laid on a mortar base, so it holds the heat well. The weather has been chilly lately and I've been running the heat in the mid 60's to sleep better (I'm a warm sleeper nowadays, is there such a thing as male menopause?!), so the kittehs seek the heat -- the bathroom is the warmest room in the house, a good 5 degrees warmer than everywhere else. Poor Mencken, however, refuses to sleep on the floor. Someone might step on him. TMF don't care, I think he's *trying* to trip people :).

-- Badtux the Cat-owned Penguin

No Thanksgiving

Hrm. I'm a bit late with this one. Oh well.

This is Darrell Scott "The Day Before Thanksgiving" off his album A Crooked Road.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Too evil for evil

The Department of Homeland Security ain't exactly the department of fuzzy fluffy puppy dogs. They have a bad habit of groping grannies and little children at checkpoints, doing warrantless searches at "border stops" well inside the U.S. borders, and otherwise generally treating the Constitution like some sorta toilet paper to wad and flush. So why do I bring them up? 'Cause as evil as the DHS is, there's some evil out there so evil that even the DHS don't want to associate with 'cause of the reek of brimstone. And by that, I'm referring to, of course... Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

If you want the scoop on Sheriff Joe, the place to get it is the Phoenix New Times. They've documented Sheriff Joe's jackboots throwing cripples out of wheelchairs to lie on the floor of jail cells in their own feces and urine... refusing to allow diabetics to take their insulin with predictable result (dead diabetics)... repeated beatings of inmates who have died from their injuries, one of those beatings being one of those cripples thrown out of his wheelchair... and other similar atrocities against people who have been convicted of no crime but poverty (i.e, being too poor to make bail while waiting trial).

The man is evil. Pure evil. Yet the people of Maricopa County, Arizona, have re-elected him every year since a long time ago. What does that say about the folks who live in the largest metropolitan area of Arizona? Disgusting. Just disgusting. That's all I got to say about it.

-- Badtux the Brimstone-smellin' Penguin

Dreamy dancing

Beach House, "Holy Dancing", off their self-titled debut album.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Close to 50% of Americans are now poor

A couple of weeks ago, I noted a quietly released and completely unpublicized (except by the official magazine of the Communist Party, WTF is that, that the Communists cover the US better than our so-called "free" press?) Social Security income report which inadvertently pointed out that the median income of the average American was near the poverty line for a family of four, and well under the 133% mark that most experts consider "poor". That is, if you are a single-income family of four in America, you're likely poor. And the Great Recession has made a lot of single-income families of four -- and some no-income ones, for that matter.

Now Census data pretty much confirming the Census data has been released and even our snoozing press had to pay attention to the fact that 1 in 2 Americans are now poor. And mayors are saying that a significant number of people needing food assistance aren't getting any because of cuts to food banks and other social safety networks, but hey, let them eat cake, right? Congratulations, Republicans. Your project, 30 years in the making, to turn America into the world's biggest banana republic with a stinking rich oligarch class and everybody else a poor-ass serf is coming to fruition. Bet you're proud.

-- Badtux the Banana-eating Penguin

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Rick Santorum has seven guns

No, I'm not joking. How... phallic. He also has closets. Very *large* closets. Just sayin' :).

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin


Obama agrees to sign bill saying he can indefinitely detain anybody -- including American citizens -- arrested by the military.

Yay, the land of the, uhm, well, not so free, but home of the, err, well, not exactly brave either, now that I think of it. U S A! U S A! We're number... well... not exactly #1 in anything except body count, but hey, that's okay, right? Right?!

At least the Soviet Union gave you a show trial before disappearing you. Just sayin'.

-- Badtux the Disgusted Penguin


Tedeschi Trucks Band, "Learn How To Love" from their 2011 album Revelator. Some bluesy jazzy by-god *music*. And why the fuck isn't Susan Tedeschi a big name anyhow?

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


Just got home, after a looooong day. Going to bed. G'nite.

Oops, some short hits:

The Real War On Christmas: Jewish writers of Christmas songs actually part of a vast conspiracy to destroy Christmas via treacly Christmas tunes guaranteed to drive you insane, bwahahaha!

Blackwater changes their name again. Will now be known as Sparkly Unicorn of Peace And Love.

If you're going to make an anti-gay commercial, it's probably wise to *not* wear the same jacket that Heath Ledger wore in Brokeback Mountain.

-- Badtux the Tired Penguin

Animal parts

Lera Lynn, "Fire & Undertow". Just some jazzy-sounding music from Athens, Georgia, y'all. Can be purchased from her web site as part of the album Have You Met Lera Lynn?.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

A most FAHbulous candidate

Cut out a 'n' and turn it upside down to make a 'u' and paste it in place... and *that*, my friends, is a candidate that could shake up the GOP race. Heh.

- Badtux the Easily Amused Penguin


Monday, December 12, 2011

Conspiracy theory

Heard about the OMG $29 trillion dollar Fed bailout of the U.S. banks? Yes? Congratulations... you've been taken in by yet another conspiracy theory!

The reality is that the Federal Reserve never had $29T outstanding in loans to the banks. During the peak crisis period when the banks could no longer raise money on the open markup due to a complete lockup of equity markets, the peak liquidity lending was about $1.5 trillion, or roughly 6% of outstanding corporate and household debt. The current balance, BTW, is $0 -- that's how much the banks owe the Fed right now, because they repaid everything they were loaned once equity markets unfroze.

Furthermore, this is sort of the purpose of the Federal Reserve, the whole reason it was created -- to provide liquidity by trading cash for long-term assets when there's a bank run. Which there was. The failure of the Federal Reserve to do this job during 1929-1932 is what caused the collapse of over half of the banks in the United States and massive deflation that resulted in over 30% unemployment.

In short, the conspiracy theorists find a conspiracy in the Fed doing its job. Which is just whack. The whole point of the Federal Reserve is to loan money to banks in exchange for long-term assets when the banks need short term cash, otherwise there's no reason to have it. Blasting the Fed for doing what it's supposed to do is either dishonest, idiotic... or both.

-- Badtux the Monetary Penguin

Having nothing

Wye Oak, "Civilian", off their 2011 album by the same name.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Clogged sink

I had trouble shaving and brushing my teeth this morning...

-- Badtux the Cat-owned Penguin

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Newt and the Israelis

There's been a predictable uproar on the left about Newt Gingrich's statement that there's no such thing as a Palestinian. The problem is, to a certain extent, he's right.

See, here's the thing. We're Americans. In America, nationality is what nation you live in. But it is only here in America that lines on a map determine nationality. In most of the world, people identify their nationality by language, culture, and ethnicity. If you speak German, are culturally German, and are descended from Germans, you are German whether you live in Poland, the Czech Republic, or in Germany proper. Your forefathers can have lived on a plot of land in the Czech Republic for 100 years, you can be the 3rd generation born in the Czech Republic, and you are still German as far as everybody in Germany and the Czech Republic are concerned. Similarly if you speak Mandarin, are ethnically Han Chinese, and are culturally Chinese, then you are Chinese whether you live in China, Vietnam, or Indonesia. That is, the nation you live in doesn't define your nationality in most of the world, rather, your language, culture, and ethnicity does. And from that perspective, there isn't a Palestinian people -- there are merely Arabs, who speak the same language as all other Arabs, who have the same culture as all other Arabs, who are genetically identical to all other Arabs.

Now, back to Gingrich's statement. Gingrich was merely paraphrasing Israel PM Golda Meir's statements from the early 1970's. Golda Meir was one of the founders of the modern state of Israel and her statement was typical of the attitude of the founders of Israel. Remember, the founders of Israel were European. From their perspective, there was no such thing as a Palestinian people because there is no distinct Palestinian language, culture, and ethnicity. From their perspective there were Arabs who happened to be citizens of a pseudo-state called "Palestine" that did not exist prior to 1920, a pseudo-state set up by Britain as part of the division of the Ottoman province of Trans-Jordan at the fall of the Ottoman Empire, a pseudo-state populated by people who were no different culturally, ethnically, or genetically from any other Arab, who had a dozen other Arab states similarly created from thin air after the fall of the Ottoman Empire to go to. From their perspective, the "Palestinian Problem" was a problem caused by Arab rulers refusing to take in their Arab brothers as citizens, and had nothing to do with Israel.

From that perspective, what Gingrich said made sense. Gingrich's problem is that the facts on the ground are different than in 1973. Israel agreed to create a Palestinian nationality (which is still not a Palestinian people from their POV, just another fake nationality created by Europeans), and set up a Bantustan-style "Palestinian Authority" on the Gaza Strip and West Bank as part of their peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan. In exchange Egypt and Jordan gave up their territorial claims on the Gaza Strip and West Bank and Yasser Arafat agreed to lead said Bantustan in exchange for stopping attacks on Israel. Gingrich's view is still held by the vast majority of Israelis, who do not view Palestinians as a people, just as a fake nationality created by Europeans as part of their division of the Arab people after WW1, but Israel is not living up to their half of the agreements that they agreed to, which do not allow "settlers" on the West Bank and Gaza Strip. That, and not Gingrich's statements (which to a certain extent are factually true from the point of view of most of the world), are the real issue here.

Note that my explanation of what Israelis think does not mean that I condone or encourage such thinking. Long-term it's a recipe for utter disaster for reasons adequately explained elsewhere. I'm just telling you things you probably don't know because you won't hear them in the left-wing echo chamber -- indeed, that you're unlikely to hear anywhere outside of Israel, unless you are talking to actual Israelis.

-- Badtux the Reality-based Penguin

Lovely cry

Keeping to the country vibe, here's Carrie Rodriguez, "I Cry For Love". This appears to be a new one that isn't on any of her albums yet. Enjoy!

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Busy penguin

Just finished selling my old Jeep plus various bits and pieces, plus had a parade of sorts for Toys for Tots (our club basically stuffed their bus, they were hauling boxes of donated toys away from our column of Jeeps :) and a holiday party. PHEW! Been on the go since 8AM and only *now* having a chance to get my breath!

I see y'all didn't tear up the blog while I was out. Thanks :).

-- Badtux the Busy Penguin

Sleepy inuendo

Nikki Lane, "Sleep For You" off of Walk of Shame. Reverbed-drenched Nashville session musicians gives this one sort of a Mazzy Star Meets Loretta Lynn vibe...

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Friday, December 09, 2011


I first introduced Esben & The Witch here in April 2010 when they were an unsigned band playing bars and pubs in the UK. They finally did release their first album -- Lucia, at the Precipice -- and while not knocking Lady Gaga off the top 100, it's gotten them a fair amount of attention from the music press and some sales. This is "They Use Smiles to Bury You" off of that album.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Badtux's Law of Internet Forums

"Any forum good enough to become popular eventually becomes big enough to be dominated by total jerks."

I came to this realization, actually, by viewing Craigslist's flagging help forum and realizing that about 20% of the people asking for help about why their for-sale item got flagged did not have their ad flagged for being scams or otherwise violating the Terms of Service, they were being told, "you're asking too much money for it, that's why you were flagged." WTF? So now CraigsList's crowdsourced flagging crew is the Pricing Police, imposing their own Stalistic vision of what things should sell for upon the buyers and sellers on the site?

Why... YES! And CL apparently sees nothing wrong with this. So why did it seem wrong to me? Then it struck me: it's wrong because these people are total JERKS. They are taking a system that was originally designed to deal with spammers and scammers (and I know this because I was *there* when Craig introduced his original flagging system, back when CL was a small San Francisco board with a few thousand friendly users) and using it to impose their own agenda of how society should be organized onto the rest of the users of CL. And if you mention this to anybody at CL, they get all hostile and angry and say if you don't like it, go somewhere else because, like, CL is perfect and has no problems and yada yada. CL's support forums have become a very angry, hostile place because of the CL defenders constantly attacking the users who come on and ask why their item got flagged even though their ad is not spam, a scam, or a prohibited (under the ToU) item or type of ad.

But why can the jerks dominate things so much? Well, it's for the same reason that HOA's are dominated by the HOA Nazis, who fine you if your grass is 1.1 inches tall when their HOA rules say the grass must be 1.0 inches tall and otherwise make your life misery. It's because having the power to impose your own vision upon other people attracts jerks the way that gay prostitutes attract Republican politicians. And when you have enough of these jerks in one place, it's like they form a black hole of Peak Assholery. And CL, as a very popular Internet forum, has attracted enough users to pass this threshhold, and gives the assholes enough power (via the Flag button) to impose their own vision upon the site.

Unfortunately this appears to be a core problem with voluntary crowdsourcing: Voluntary crowdsourcing generally attracts people who are fanatics, assholes, jerks, or all of the above. This is why the OWS movement degenerated into small gangs of radicals rather than growing to encompass the rest of the 99% -- it is the fanatics, assholes, and jerks who want power, who have the motivation to grasp for power, who force their vision upon other people who then, because most people are *not* assholes, simply go elsewhere. Furthermore, when I was involved in one of the first community sites back in the 90's, back in the days when CL was Craig's local listing of classified ads in San Francisco, we ran into the *exact same* problem -- once our site got too popular, the assholes took over and abused the "Flag" button to downgrade posts that complied with our ToS but did not comply with the ideology of the assholes. The solution? Have both upflag *AND* downflag, so that jerks downflagging valid posts for ideological reasons could be overruled, and give flagging points only to a randomly chosen group of people (different every day) as a *privilege* rather than give everybody the ability to flag. That worked at first because jerks are generally outnumbered by non-jerks, but eventually enough jerks got attracted to this very popular site that it reached Peak Assholery and I had to leave because it just wasn't fun anymore dealing with assholes who wanted to impose their own will on everything.

Which, of course, is the other side of Peak Assholery: when enough assholes get on a site and start shitting all over the place, it causes non-assholes to say, "meh, I'm not going to deal with that bullshit" and leave. Which leaves the assholes dominating everything. Hmm... say, have you noticed that I haven't logged into DailyKOS in, like, *ages*? Just sayin' :).

And now that I think of it... does this describe why the American political system is so fucked up, too? Funny, the connections you can make just by observing how assholes are ruining a popular community site...

-- Badtux the Observant Penguin


Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, "Go It Alone", from his 2011 album Here We Rest.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Empty stores

So this season I've visited two Target stores and one Wal-Mart store. And... uhm. Hello? Helloooo? Anybody there?

The two Target stores were virtually deserted. At one of them, two checkout counters were operating, this during a prime shopping time. The other had four checkout counters operating. And no lines. The place virtually echoed.

Wal-Mart was a little busier, but nowhere near the zoo that it was before the Great Recession. Only half of the checkout lanes were open, and there were no lines. Before the Great Recession, all the checkout lanes would have been open, all the parking in the parking lot would have been filled, and the store would have been so jammed with people you would have had a hard time moving. Now... not so much.

All that happy happy joy news about how great the economy is doing yada yada? Uhm, yeah. Not seein' it. Just sayin'.

-- Badtux the Observant Penguin

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Groovy night

Rose Elinor Dougall, "I Know We´ll Never". I think this version *may* be on iTunes, but it's not on her one and only album. Just some groovy Brit-pop by a gal with pipes.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

I love my credit union

Got a phone call from my landlady asking where her money was. I pulled up my statement on the web, and said "that's funny, bill pay says they mailed it to you on November 18 and took the money out of my account on November 22. Let me contact my credit union and have them call you to see what happened." So I opened a support case on the credit union's web site and soon got a response back that yes, they mailed the check and had the postal receipt to prove it, but it hadn't been cashed. So they called the landlord, verified the landlord hadn't found the check between the time she called me and the time they did their search, verified that they had the correct mailing address and account number on the check, and re-issued the check after verifying with the landlady that no late fees were due since she probably just lost the old check. No reissue fees or check cancellation fees or anything, just plain old customer service :).

Thank the Great Penguin that I wasn't with some Big Bank! They would have just shrugged and said, "not our problem", then charged me fees out the wazoo to resolve the Not Our Problem!

I love my credit union :).

-- Badtux the No-bank Penguin

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Trials are overrated

I mean, they sometimes result in people going free. When everybody knows that the police would *never* arrest an innocent person, and thus this results in dusky fellers walkin' the streets who ought to be in jail, not outside jail leering at our white womens and taunting us good God-fearin' white men with their long... err... trombones.

It just ain't right, ain't right I say! Which is why we need this law that says the military can lock up anybody, any time, without trial, even an American citizen, just by claiming that said citizen is a "terrorist". I mean, I feel terrorized by them dusky-skinned fellers, and by them young hippie folks with their drum circles and shit too, so why shouldn't we be able to lock one of'em up without trial anytime some white person somewhere feels threatened? I mean, it ain't as if they're real Americans, god-fearing white male Americans, after all!

Now, some fellers say, "well, they can pass this law, but the Supreme Court will just say it violates the Constitution and nullify it." You mean a Supreme Court packed with Republican-nominated judges? *SNORT!* All I gotta say is, are you fucking kiddin' me? Really? Alrighty, then!

-- Badtux the Republican Penguin

Remembering a dream

Trespassers William, "In A Song", off their album Different Stars. Just some torchy dream pop...

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Monday, December 05, 2011

Voter turnout in Russia exceeds 146%

Russia apparently obeys Chicago Rules. Why should being dead deprive one of the right to vote early and often? ;).

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

The Apprentice Rebooted

Announcer: Welcome to this new season of The Apprentice! Here to my left is Newt Gingrich.

Newt: Hello peoplesssssss....

Announcer: And here to my right, is the star of our show, the fabulous and famous Donald Trump!

[Much clapping and cheering from audience in response to "Applause" sign lighting over the stage.]

DT: Thank you, thank you, I love you all!

Announcer: We have a very special season of The Apprentice for you. Mr. Newt Gingrich came up with an amazing idea for this season...

[Cut to Newt videotape]

Newt: See, it'll be, like, the last season of The Apprentice. Except this year, it will be ten poor kids!

[Cut to DT videotape]

DT: Amazing idea, my good buddy! So many of these underprivileged children have no idea what it means to work, nobody in their life works after all. What's that, Rosie? Time for my shower? Thank you, take away my bathrobe to the laundry please and make sure my pillow is fluffed the way I like it.

[Cut back to live]

Announcer: And now we'll introduce our first two contestants... Ethan Gonzales and Latasha Washington! Come on out, children!

[Two children, a Hispanic boy and a black girl each of which is approximately ten years old, walk out on the stage. Both are dressed semi-formally, the boy in black sneakers, khaki pants and a white polo shirt, the girl wearing black Mary Janes with white ankle socks and a plaid jumper over a white blouse.]

Announcer: Say hello to our audience, children!

Ethan: Hi! [Waves]

Latasha: Hello! [Smiles and waves.]

Announcer: So tell me, Ethan, how do you feel about being on this exciting television show with the marvelous Mr. Donald Trump?

Ethan: I... I'm honored. I hope to learn everything I can from Mr. Trump and make something of myself!

Announcer: And you, Latasha?

Latasha: I'm happy to be here, Donald Trump is a great man and generous to give me this opportunity and I won't let it go to waste!

Announcer: Alright! That's the attitude! And now for your first assignment...

[A helper brings out a mop bucket and a mop, places the bucket at Ethan's feet, and hands the mop to Ethan.]

Announcer: Your first assignment is to mop the floor in the executive washroom! It's right through that door!

Ethan: Wha... what?

Donald Trump: [Walks out with a big grin on his face]: YOU'RE FIRED!

[Ethan breaks down bawling, and is led off the stage, crying and sniffling. The mop falls to the floor during this process and a helper comes out and picks the mop up, while Donald gloats looking offstage as the crying and sniffling slowly fade into the distance.]

Announcer: And are you ready for your big assignment, Latasha?

[Latasha merely glares at him. The assistant attempts to hand her the mop. She folds her arms in front of her and it merely falls on the floor]

Announcer: You get to mop The Donald's dressing room floor!

Latasha: Like hell. [Turns to Donald] Don't bother firing me, asshole. I'm outta here. [Exits stage left].

[Newt walks out on stage]

Newt: Children these days. They just don't know their place.

DT: Yes. Sad, isn't it? No wonder those children get nowhere in life. They simply don't value hard work!

Announcer: Well after this commercial break we'll bring out our next two contestants here on... Child Apprentice!

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

[Based upon a true story].

A wreck on the highway

The great Emmy The Great, with "MIA", off her first album First Love.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Cat and Ladder

I had the ladder set up to get a bin of Christmas decorations down from the attic in the garage, and next thing I know, there's a cat up in the attic. So I pick him up and put him down on the ground again, and turn on my video camera to see what happens...

Turns out The Mighty Fang is mighty good at *climbing* ladders, but not so good at going *down* ladders. But never fear, no cat skeletons will be found in the attic. Not this week, anyhow.

- Badtux the Cat-owned Penguin

Average American makes near-poverty wages

Wonder why the bottom 50% of Americans have nothing? Well, it's simple: the median American wage is almost at poverty level for a family of four.

Don't believe me? Really? Well... here's the official Social Security data. There's a lot of interesting things to note in that table. First of all, note that income is really toploaded, and that's been true for a long time. The huge sums of money earned by the top 10%, and especially by the top 1%, skew the averages way up. But over the past twenty years, that's gotten even worse. The median income was 72% of the average income in 1991. In 2010, the last year for which SSA publishes data, the median income was 65.976% of the average. In other words, the share of national income held by the bottom 50% has gone down significantly over the past twenty years.

But we already knew that. So just *how* significantly? Well... the median wage -- which half of Americans make less than -- was $26,363.55 in 2010. The Federal poverty level for a family of four in 2010 was $22,050 in 2010 -- and the 133% mark, which most experts consider the line below which a family of four is living under conditions of extreme financial distress and has difficulty meeting basic needs, was $29,326 in 2010.

In short, it's basically impossible for at least 50% of Americans to make ends meet in a one-income family. And because of the Great Recession, all too many families have become one-income families and are one paycheck away from losing everything. And that's not counting the one-income families where the income earner lost his job -- those families are already out on the streets homeless, or shacked up with relatives, or otherwise living under conditions of dire hardship.

Now, if income were normally distributed -- that is, if the average American made the average income -- the average American would be making $39,959 per year. That's a far cry from $26,364! That amount of money -- $13,595 -- is basically what the top 1% are stealing from the average American worker via claiming ownership of the wealth produced by hard-working Americans, without whom the 1% would have a tiny fraction of their current wealth because they can, at best, produce only 1% of the goods and services of the nation with their own two hands. There is no way that this is sustainable in a democracy. You're going to see continued unrest like the Occupy movement because the situation for over 50% of American workers is simply unsustainable, they work and work and work and the result is poverty while the 1% rejoice in their millions? Something's broken, and if it doesn't get fixed, nothing good will happen. That much I can guarantee.

-- Badtux the Numbers Penguin

Lonely torch

A sad blue girl...

Devics, "Blue Miss Sunday" off their brilliant torch pop album If You Forget Me. Which nobody apparently likes other than me, given that most of the videos I see from it have under 5,000 views :(.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Friday, December 02, 2011

Not convinced

Alabama tomato farmer lets tomatos rot in field due to "lack of labor" caused by "immigration law".

My guess: If he ran a van up to Birmingham and started putting up fliers, he could find plenty of labor, though he'd have to provide transportation to his fields for them. Birmingham has an unemployment rate of close to 40% in some neighborhoods. But that labor would be those (gasp) NEGROS, and he's scared of them darkies since they got all uppity and all (the illegals aren't uppity 'cause they're scared of being deported), so he isn't going to do that.

Talk about not thinking outside of the hood...

Now, I don't agree with Alabama's immigration law because in my opinion it punishes children and it punishes people who've proven they deserve to be called Americans. But this article, combined with what I know about conditions for people of color in Birmingham, just made my blood boil.

-- Badtux the Baffled Penguin

You're a mean one, Mr. (Gin)Grinch

Okay, so Newt Gingrich says poor kids should get started early on their future careers as bathroom cleaners.

And, of course they should do this while hungry, because Newt the Lizard says that food stamps are just like credit cards and should be discontinued. Erm, except of course food stamp ECT cards are not like credit cards. The cash registers at stores that accept them are programmed to accept them only for the food items on the ticket -- all other items checked out must be paid for via some other way. I know this because I see people using these things as I check out at the grocery store, where they slide their card through the ECT machine, and then dig in their purse for random loose coins to pay for the few things not covered by the food stamp program. If Newt the Grinch had ever checked out at a grocery store recently he'd know this. Oh wait, I forget, Newt the Grinch never goes grocery shopping. Like most lizard people, he probably eats flies and live kittens for dinner.

What next, will Newt bite the head off of a puppy on live TV for his next trick? That's about the only way he can top wanting to work to death and starve little children, yo.

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

And talking about bombs...

You remember seeing the story here about that bomb in the post office dropbox that got blown up by the San Jose Police Department? No? There's probably a good reason for that. I snorted at the time that story came out and said to one of my co-workers, "I bet somebody's Christmas gift just got turned into confetti." And sure enough... wait a couple of days, and we find out that turned out to be Calendars of Mass Timekeeping. Which, I suppose, are dangerous if you are a Time Lord, but otherwise... uhm, no. Yet we were being told that we had to poop our panties in fear? Really?

Which reminds me, do you remember when I posted that story about the Russian hackers getting into a SCADA system? Oh wait, I already posted the one where it turned out that the "hacker" was actually a contractor on vacation in Russia, and the SCADA system crashed because it was old and simply died of old age. But again we were supposed to be pooping our britches in fear.

Oh wait, I just saw a fly buzzing by. OMG, the terrorists are attacking! Run away, run away!

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Demented noise bomb

Scout Niblett, "Cherry Cheek Bomb", off her album The Calcination of Scout Niblett. Just some demented noise...

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Right wing economics in a nutshell

Okay, first of all, economies are like magic zoos, see. There are lions and tigers and bulls and bears, oh my, and stuff goes in and stuff goes out and like everybody lives happily ever after and such. So how do these "economy" thingies work? Well, first of all, meet the Free Market Fairy:

Now, the first thing the Free Market Fairy does is, like, jizz magic free market fairy dust all over the place by waving her (his?) magic wand around. This free market fairy dust is then gathered together by the Invisible Hand (no picture, because the Invisible Hand is, like, invisible, like God and Dick Cheney's conscience and stuff like that), which turns it into magical Competition Unicorns which then excrete magical substance called Choice that makes all goods cheap and widely available. Here is a picture of a Competition Unicorn:

Now, as you can see, the magical substance is excreted at the nether end and then consumers get all the benefit of this "Choice" thingy, which is, like, rainbows and sunshine and puppy dogs, oh my, and guarantees that you'll always get great service at a great price, sort of like those TV preachers who guarantee that if you send them a million billion dollars you'll go to a place where magic unicorns live and some hairy old dude has a lot of mansions for everybody to live in.

So anyhow, these magic unicorns poop this "choice" stuff and then we get all the benefits of low prices and good service. Like, at my house, I have a lot of this Choice stuff when it comes to high speed Internet -- I have Comcast, and I have, err, Comcast. Hmm. I must be wrong, because these magic Competition unicorns are EVERYWHERE, even though nobody's ever seen them outside of narrow marketplaces for consumer baubles, and thus there's ALWAYS a choice, just like my choice between Comcast and, err, Comcast, for high speed Internet. The Competition Unicorn *does* exist, like Santa Claus, magically bringing gifts to all the deserving people. And if you don’t get gifts from this magic competition unicorn, why, it just means you’re a bad person and probably deserve to get coal in your Christmas stocking, ho ho ho!

And that's right wing economics in a nutshell. Tomorrow, boys and girls, we'll talk about right-wing biology. That's even stranger than right-wing economics... like, *really* strange, as in, it's a wonder that right-wingnuts ever manage to reproduce. See ya!

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Trailer park blues

Paul Thorn "Burn Down the Trailer Park" off his 1999 album Ain't Love Strange. Just some Texas blues, y'all.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Today in stupidity...

Just got home after a long day at work, so going to blog about stupidity rather than about the economy. Everybody already tweeted about Michelle Gaffman's notion that the U.S. has an embassy in Iran (we don't, and haven't since 1980). Then there was the story from last week about how Russian hackers had hacked into a water system's SCADA and burned out a pump, cutting off water to the town. Except they didn't -- the "Russian hacker" turned out to be the water system's IT consultant who ssh'ed in while on vacation in Moscow and Berlin to diagnose a problem with the system, and the "hack burned out the water pump" turned out to be just a worn-out water pump that the water system knew was failing that finally gave up the ghost. So the Department of Homeland Security spun up this whole story about the Russian hacker menace that, err, wasn't, out of thin air apparently because if there are clean undies in any IT machine room they wanted to remedy that situation. Go figure.

So what other stupidity? BAE gets into a fight with a Medal of Honor winner. Even bets on who wins that one -- the Marine, or the international mega-corporation. And Teabaggers continue to whine that they're overtaxed... despite the fact that the only nations that collect less in taxes than the United States are third-world hellholes.

And finally, yet another GOP politician caught trading meth for sex with a gay prostitute. So now we know how Sheriff Patrick J. Sullivan Jr. stayed so slim as he aged... it was all the exercise in the closet that did it for him.

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin


Welch indie band The Joy Formidable, with "Whirring", off their debut album The Big Roar.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The future

What does the future hold for Arielle Metzger, one of the subjects of yesterday's story? I mean, she's obviously an intelligent and articulate young woman. What does the future hold for all these children, the 25 million children living in dire poverty, and the tens of millions who aren't far from it?

First things first: When you're living under conditions of such dire poverty, pretty much everything seems beyond your grasp. College looks like it might be a possibility in abstraction, but the reality is that a haphazard education caused by being homeless and moving from school to school makes scholarships problematic and grant and state subsidy programs have been gutted to the point where they'll no longer pay for poor children's college educations. Finding a way might happen, but it would be through heroic efforts and the chances... slim.

What other careers might she look at? My guess is that by this time next year she's going to be working as a waitress or as a clerk to make money to bring home to the family. She's going to do this because it's life, that's what you do, you do whatever it takes to get by, and it's what you can do if you're young and reasonably good looking and have no skills other than your ability to charm people. She's going to go to school tired and sleepy in the mornings, she's going to go to work a couple of hours after she gets out of school after studying that amount of time, and then go to sleep. Wash, rinse, repeat.

Hopefully she won't get pregnant. But a lot of girls in her situation do get pregnant, because that would qualify the teenb and the child for AFDC, housing subsidies, and a lot of other assistance they don't get as homeless teenagers.

Could she have been the next great composer? The next great inventor? The physicist who finally solves the problem of nuclear fusion? A soccer star? One of the great actresses of the world? The biomedical doctor who finally finds a cure for the common cold? We'll never know, because ten years from now she'll be taking someone's order in a restaurant, her looks will have already started to fade from the years of poor food and lack of access to good medical care and information about exercise and keeping yourself fit, and that's going to be her life, forever.

That is the sad thing of all this refusal of America and Americans to collectively take care of our children: The waste. The utter waste. Arielle is not an idiot. With sufficient bootstraps, she could make something of herself far better than her current fate. What good for our nation have we thrown away, by this refusal to invest in our children? And what kind of a nation, what kind of people, is it, anyhow, that views a few dollars of tax money more important than children?

-- Badtux the Sad Penguin

Nothing left

Tom Morello with a special guest, "Lazarus On Down" from his 2008 album (as The Nightwatchman) The Fabled City.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Monday, November 28, 2011

CBS commits journalism

It's only life.

Just something got in my eye and a case of the sniffles, that's all.

On the way to Banana Republic-hood

Investors are fleeing the markets and parking their money in U.S. Treasuries at effectively *negative* interest rates. Why? Because it's become clear that the markets are rigged. Whether you're talking about bond markets where worthless "mortgage-backed securities" that turn out to be backed only by liar loans are marketed as AAA-grade "just as good as Treasuries" bonds, or stock markets where computerized trading algorithms get special access to the markets on the part of the major brokerage houses to suck all the profits out of the market long before they get to you, the old rules seem to no longer apply.

But of course, there *are* rules nowadays. They’re just completely corrupt rules, like “You take without conscience or shame. If you see a blind man selling pencils on the street, steal the pencils. Steal his pennies. Steal his dog.” In short, our rulers view us as a nation of suckers, to be fleeced at will.

But the problem is, you can’t run an economy that way. Not efficiently, anyhow. What you end up with is a corrupt banana republic where people don’t even bother trying anymore because if they get ahead, the oligarchs will just find some new way to take everything away from them again anyhow, so why bother? Corruption on that scale corrodes everything in an economy. It just doesn’t work.

- Badtux the Non-corrupt Penguin
(thus why I’m not rich).

Sad lonely country blues

Randy Rogers "I Met Lonely Tonight", off his 2010 album Burning the Day...

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Quote of the day

"The H13 is quite possibly the stupidest design for a bulb ever foisted on the public. The terminals are so small that they overheat, even at stock wattages, and melt the plastic housing of the connectors."

The H13 is what my new Jeep has in it for its headlight bulb. I think Chiseler chose the H13 because the bulb has a seal around it, thereby keeping water out of the headlight proper. Sealing water out of headlights that use H4 bulbs is somewhat difficult due to the design of the H4 bulb, usually there is some cumbersome rubber shielding involved to attempt to seal around the socket to keep water out, and it's rarely 100% effective. So given that one requirement was that the Jeep Wrangler be able to fjord water that was up to the battery terminals (which in turn are higher than the headlight bulbs), this must have seemed something reasonable to the Jeep engineers. Too bad that the bulb itself sucks, for the reason mentioned above. And Chiseler deciding to make this a reflector-centric design rather than a lens-centric design didn't help, it looks cool but the light pattern sucks donkey dicks (I was outside trying to adjust these things to get a good light pattern for the past hour or so and it just cannot be done).

So it goes. The good thing is that a Jeep. What that means is that someone's already come up with a kit to put decent H4-based headlights in the thing :).

-- Badtux the Wrenchin' Penguin

Mississippi River take him down

This is a number of songs run together, but the first one is named "Take Me Down" and is basically the funeral plans of musician Coco Robicheaux, October 25, 1947 – November 25, 2011. May the Mississippi River take his ashes down. He keeled over from a massive heart attack while holding court with fans and admirers at a New Orleans bar. If ya gotta die, I guess that's how to do it with a bang...

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Saturday, November 26, 2011

My Black Friday

I was in Death Valley National Park, hiking up Johnson Canyon to look at the ruins of Hungry Bill's Ranch. What were you doing on Black Friday?

-- Badtux the Desert Penguin

Cue Dien Bien Phu

Pakistan cuts off NATO supply route to Afghanistan.

US/NATO forces are 100% reliant on fuel driven in from Pakistan. There is no way to airlift enough fuel to keep US forces operational. There's enough fuel in-country for everybody to get to Bagram to be airlifted out, but that's about it.

The supply situation just became as tenuous as Dien Bien Phu's supply situation became once Ho Chi Mihn got artillery onto the slopes overlooking its airstrip. Pakistan has always been problematic as an ally against the Taliban because, uhm, they *created* the Taliban. So now the question is, what is the U.S. going to do? Bribe Pakistan to re-open the supply route? Escort U.S. supplies with U.S. troops and dare Pakistan to do something about it, which, given the fact that the average Paki is about as hyper as a ferret on meth about his "manhood" is almost 100% guaranteed to start a shooting war?

This penguin now returns to his vacation for at least another two days. What a thing to wake up to with my morning coffee though :(.

-- Badtux the History Penguin

Monday, November 21, 2011

The end of the world is today

So says James Howard Kunstler at Clusterfuck Nation.

There is not much more for me to add to that, other than to hope he's wrong.

-- Badtux the "Interesting times" Penguin

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Why now?

There haven't been large-scale campus uprising for literally *decades*. Why are we starting to see them now? Why didn't we see them before?

Well... basically, kids are graduating from college with unpayable debt, can't find jobs, and their little brothers and sisters now in college are seeing what happened to their older brothers and sisters and saying "This isn't right" -- and also seeing that they have nothing to lose . So they get expelled for taking part in a student uprising. So what. A college degree did how much good for their older brothers and sisters? None. What do they have to lose, other than a worthless piece of paper and a bunch of debt?

The *only* time you see large-scale uprising and disturbances is when there is a large number of people who have nothing to lose. I study history so I remember past uprisings and disturbances and recall the two ways of ending them -- imposing totalitarian dictatorship, or implementing a "Fair Deal" where hard work and study will get you ahead in life and thus people have something to lose if they instead participate in an uprising or disturbance. Well, there's also the third choice -- the uprising accomplishes the toppling of the government, at which point things go to bleep in a handbasket. That's the choices -- Madam Guillotine, Vladimir Putin, or FDR. Which one do our 1% choose? We'll find out, I suppose...

-- Badtux the Vacationing Penguin

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Must See

Wonkette today features A Children’s Treasury of American Cops Brutally Attacking Citizens. Like a fashion show of fascism, yo.

But never fear. The Atlantic's editor sez it's not the fault of the cops. Because of course they are just following orders. And if those orders called for a Final Solution? Well...

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Friday, November 18, 2011

On vacation

The penguin's daily rant, plus the penguin's daily music festival, are on vacation until November 28. Until then, I will leave you with some cats to admire:

-- Badtux the Holiday-celebratin' Penguin

Bonus cat:

I want a poney

The Stone Poneys were the first band Linda Ronstadt had any kind of success with, and the last band she played in before going solo. This was their one and only hit in 1966 when Linda was 19 years old (this performance is in 1967 when she's 20 years old), written for Linda by Mike Nesmith of The Monkees, who thereby redeemed his soul from Satan where he'd checked it in while trying for TV success.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

The Goat Rodeo

So Herman Cain fell out of favor because he loves him some white meat (and dark meat too, but white meat was what offended the teabagger faithful), which meant that Newt the Reptile became the Republican frontrunner for the Not-Mitt-Romney position. Except, err, Newt the Reptile, aside from being cold-blooded and slimy and in general having a, err, likeability, problem, turns out to have taken over $1.5M from the exact same Freddie Mac he blasts as being "corrupt", then had the audacity to lie about it.

So now disappointed teabaggers need another candidate. This candidate should be personable, and should have a fine knowledge of geography (another one of Herman Cain's downfallings). This person should have experience in the limelight and experience dealing with a hostile press. Furthermore, this person should be looking for a *short time* gig, since the Not-Mitt-Romney job only lasts a few weeks before a press corps with the attention span of a hummingbird moves on to the next Not-Mitt-Romney. Oh yeah, and intelligence. Should have intelligence on roughly the same level as the Teabagger base.

Searching for this new Presidential candidate was hard work, but I think I finally found the perfect candidate to run against Mitt Romney for the Republican Presidential nomination:

Oh wait, while Caitlin Upton is certainly personable and is as smart as the Republican base -- yes, smart, S-M-R-T smart! -- she's only 22 years old and thus doesn't meet the Constitutional age requirement. Oh well!

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Job creators

A conversation with a "job creator":

JC: "I took over a failing furniture chain and saved fifty jobs by managing it properly."

ME: "No you didn't. You just kept fifty jobs from moving to other furniture stores."

JC: "No, if that furniture chain had gone under, those jobs were gone!"

ME: "People would stop wanting to buy furniture if that furniture chain went under?"

JC: "Uhm, no."

ME: "There were no other furniture stores that people could go to?"

JC: "Well, there were other furniture stores, true, but..."

ME: "So wouldn't those customers just go to other furniture stores?"

JC: "Uhm, I guess."

ME: "So, wouldn't those other furniture stores need to hire more people to deal with the additional demand?"

JC: "I... guess."

ME: "So aren't the customers the job creators, who create jobs by buying furniture? Money is fungible. If they aren't spending the money in your furniture store and creating jobs in your store, they're spending it in someone else's furniture store and creating jobs there."

JC: "I... I don't want to talk to you anymore." Stomps off to find someone else to impress.

-- Badtux the Practical Economics Penguin

More duet

Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan - "You Won't Let Me Down Again", from their 2010 album Hawk. Mark has one of those voices that is so indie that it makes indie singers slit their wrists in despair... sadly, outside of indie circles he's way not known as well as he should be. Sigh!

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Where Occupy should go next

Mao Zedong was a major grade-A monster, but one thing he knew was guerrilla warfare. He *won*, in case you don't recall. So here's one of his dictums: "When guerrillas engage a stronger enemy, they withdraw when he advances; harass him when he stops; strike him when he is weary; pursue him when he withdraws."

In other words, when faced with a stronger enemy, *LEAVE*. Let the coppers stand around a deserted square wondering what to do. Then when the police go home -- which they will -- *show up somewhere else*, doing something unexpected. The point of the guerilla is to confuse and bewilder and exhaust the opponent by never presenting a fixed target for the opponent to concentrate upon, *not* to hold ground against an opponent armed with superior weapons -- and the 1% can afford to buy a *lot* of weapons (and the police forces to wield them), given that they own more assets than the bottom 90% *combined*. We have the Internet now. We have dark forums where flash crowds can be near-instantly marshaled to show up at random points. We can have the 1% exhausting their limited manpower resources scrambling frantically all over the place trying to suppress flash mobs and deal with instant protests outside of banks, political offices, and Wall Street establishments. The G is about *movement*, and in that respect Occupy's camps were the wrong idea entirely.

Okay, so that's tactics. The other thing Mao focused on was the strategic long view. What is the objective? Mao's objective was to overthrow the Nationalist government and install a Communist dictatorship with him as its head. But what are the objectives of the Occupy movement?

One thing I'll point out is that the American people are basically conservative. They aren't going to embrace a Communist revolution anytime soon. Note that I say "basically conservative" in the old sense of the word, not in the "rabid right wing radicals" sense of the word. True conservatives don't want wholesale change, what they want are changes around the edges to make the system work better. So what are some conservative goals?

  1. Prosecute the Wall Street fraudsters who caused the real estate bubble and collapse. They stole us blind -- their fraud of selling bundled liar loans as "AAA investment grade securities as safe as U.S. Treasuries" cost me 1/3rd of my retirement savings, for example. They need to be perp-walked and jailed and their ill-gotten gains removed.
  2. Tax the rich. If these frauds had been taxed at Eisenhower levels they wouldn't have perpetrated these frauds because it wouldn't have been worth their while, since the money they obtained via fraud would have mostly gone into the U.S. Treasury.
  3. Break up the too big to fail banks and restore banking competition. If they're too big to fail, they're too big to exist.
  4. Regulate. Regulate the banks. Banks should exist to be banks, and should be prohibited from gambling on Wall Street with their customers' funds. Regulate Wall Street. We need full market transparency (meaning, none of these weird derivatives that hide the core product beneath layers of obfuscation), we need to regulate credit rating agencies to eliminate their incentives to provide fraudulent ratings, and we need a zero tolerance for any misrepresentation, as well as transaction taxes to slow down trading and provide an incentive for long-term investment rather than the rigged casino game that is the current situation on Wall Street.
In short: Go back to the New Deal policies that led to this nation's period of greatest economic growth in the period 1945-1980. All this risky experimentation that the right wing keeps urging on us? Radical nonsense. Communism, anarchism, anarcho-socialism, or things of that notion? Radical nonsense. Americans are conservative, and the notion of going back to a Golden Age of finance and taxes rather than forward to some new untried system is one that would appeal to way more Americans than you'd think.

I don't think you'll find many of the bottom 99% who would argue with the above, other than perhaps the crazed Republican core, who repeat the 1%'s cant as if it were holy scripture because they worship the wealthy as their gods. But there's not much that can be done about religious zealots of that sort other than interfere with their ability to make new converts to their religion. But if you start with conservative goals -- jail the thieves, regulate, tax, break up the too-big-to-fail banks -- the zealots will look like exactly what they are: crazed zealots in thrall to their high priests of the 1%, to be ignored by all sensible people.

-- Badtux the Sensible Penguin

Creepy name calling

Yann Tiersen and Shannon Wright, "No Mercy For She", off their album Yann Tiersen and Shannon Wright. Yann Tiersen is a French film scorer. Shannon Wright is an American indie artist. Together they make very creepy music...

-- Badtux the Music Penguin


Over the past two days, a nationwide crackdown on the Occupy movement occurred. If this crackdown wasn't coordinated by Homeland Security then I'm a featherless waterfowl. Update: I'm not a featherless waterfowl after all. Talk about not being surprised!

So, uhm, why did the Obama Administration dispatch Homeland Security to destroy the Occupy movement or at least their tent encampments? Well, it was all about optics...

Uhm, that's a photo of a Hooverville, of probably the most famous one, the one that encamped right on Herbert Hoover's doorstep demanding jobs and money. The Obama administration, being populated by cowards, was scared that the Occupy movement's tents would get labeled as "Obamavilles" by the right wing. And of course the Obama administration then did what it always does whenever they suspect the right wing is even going to *threaten* to say boo -- they caved. Preemptively. Duh!

Now, as I've previously pointed out, the Occupy movement was a problem looking for a solution in the first place. Basically it was an expression of outrage at the fact that things are getting worse for each succeeding generation of Americans, that working hard and doing well in school no longer suffice to get you ahead -- all statistics show that Americans work harder and are better educated today than they've ever been before in American history, yet the average 35 year old man makes less money than his father did at age 35. That's fucked up, yo.

So anyhow, Obama didn't really give a shit about any of that, probably even agrees with the Occupy that things are fucked up, but his team was cowering in terror because, uhm, Newt Gingrich is now the not-Romney candidate in the GOP primaries after Cain self-destructed. And Newt the Reptile is reputed to know a bit of history, unlike the rest of the gang of morons and loons that are the Republican clown college. Newt might look at one of those pictures of an Occupy encampment and say, "Hey, it's an Obamaville!". Can't have that happen, right?

So anyhow, nothing's changed. Everything's all fucked up, still. But that doesn't matter, all that matters is optics -- making sure that there's nothing that Newt can point to and say, "hey look, an Obamaville!". Because it's all a game, to the people who rule us. They're not hurting. They're millionaires. They made their nut. So they don't care. They don't have to. It's all about winning with them, and America? Americans? What, you think they give a shit about America and Americans? In what universe? One where the unicorns are pink and cotton candy grows on trees?!

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Empty hole

Trespassers William, "Alone", off their 2002 album Different Stars.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Monday, November 14, 2011


From a former social worker: True story. 7years ago as a case mgr at a homeless center I broke the rules to let in a young mother w/2 kids. It was very cold.It was night time. I got the cold pizza from the kitchen and she cried. 2 months later, while at the center she killed the 3 year old.

I had forgotten about that. Blocked it right the hell out. Like so much of my time in the career.

funny pictures
see more Lolcats and funny pictures

But we have to cut taxes for millionaires so they can create jobs in China...

-- Badtux the Sad Penguin

Delayed cat blogging

Sorta the story of the past half century...

-- Badtux the Cat-admirin' Penguin

Hard times

Long-time folk singer Eliza Gilkyson, "Hard Times in Babylon". Just another musician who is woefully unappreciated despite having made music for more years than all the teen pop-tarts on the charts combined.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

The problem

Poverty is at levels not seen in the United States for fifty years. A 35-year old man today makes less money than his father made at age 35. The Federal Reserve's attempts to print money to increase employment succeeds at increasing employment -- in China, since we don't make anything in America anymore.

Occupy Wall Street and the Tea Party are flip sides of the same coin -- the (correct) perception among many Americans today that things are wrong. The only real disagreement is what is wrong. And the core problem with both movements is that they both are wrong about why our economy -- and our society -- is so screwed up.

More on that when I'm not so darn tired (been working on Jeeps -- yes, plural -- all weekend long)...

-- Badtux the Hints Penguin

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Lost soul

Courtney Love / Hole, "Dear God", off the 2010 Hole album Nobody's Daughter. This particular song was written and produced by Linda Perry, who apparently had befriended Courtney during the period where Courtney was in and out of jail and rehab on drug charges. The album sold abysmally, nobody cares about Courtney Love or Hole anymore and the album is too sad and painful for most people to enjoy. Courtney got what she wanted -- she became famous, perhaps infamous, and now what?

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

A song for our time

"Save The Rich", by Garfunkle and Oates. A bit tongue-in-cheek? You don't say!

-- Badtux the Amused Penguin

Oh yeah, a bonus picture from OWS:

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Please sign this petition

It will be read and acted on by White House staffers if we obtain sufficient signatures. Please, this is a very important issue, and if you truly care about your nation, you should sign it ASAP.

-- Badtux the Tongue-in-beak Penguin

Friday, November 11, 2011


Canadian indie group The Organ, with "Steven Smith" from their 2004 album Grab That Gun.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Thursday, November 10, 2011

A vision

Hoisted up from comments, by Bukko:

The entry hall at Dachau, where prisoners were processed as they came in, now has a lot of historical information explaining Hitler's rise to power. (Sorry if I've rattled on about this before on your blog, Tux, don't mean to bore you if this is repetition.) It laid out the "tick-tock" of THIS machination to put Nazis in control of a local legislature, THAT judicial decree oppressing different people's rights, ANOTHER takeover of an industry so that it could be used to manufacture weapons... The bit-by-bit descent into madness.

We see the rise of barbarity as a smooth thing now, compressed as it is by the hindsight of historical perspective. But to the Germans living through the 1930s, caught in the middle of the details, would they have any ability to sense on the grand scale how things were coming apart?

I feel that same way now as I see the U.S. doing its slow-motion collapse. Life is getting nastier. It seems to be building to a vicious crescendo. Each little event, every new "Don't taze me, bro" degradation -- it's part of a pattern that's ramping toward monstrosity. A century into the future, is there going to be a historical multi-media display located in some monument to horror, detailing how the days we're living in today were part of the accretion of details that led to the unimagineable? Can we see it, when we're in the midst of it?

Some people see it. I've been a careful observer for the past forty years and seen the slow slide happening, somewhat less slow over the past ten years when the national security state has ramped up to another level. But given that the only people who can do anything about it are either too apathetic, too narcotized on their drugs of popular culture and entertainment, or too busy fiddling crazy dance tunes to do anything about Rome burning in the background, I don't know what to do other than be that voice saying, "we are going the wrong way, this way lies atrocity." There were such voices in Nazi Germany, before the horrors really started. They were silenced eventually, but perhaps they were the lucky ones, those who did not sell their souls to horror.

-- Badtux the Apocalyptic Penguin

Shamelessly swiped

-- Badtux the Non-Randian Penguin

Texas mosh

Joe Ely at the famous Threadgill's in Austin, set up with a mosh pit for some reason. This is "It's a Little Like Love" off his 1998 album Twistin' In The Wind.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Dear spammer

If your message starts out with "I am a sweet and attractive young woman ...", it might behoove you to consult a dictionary of American baby names to find a name that would match that description. I'm afraid that signing the message "Ross Gordon" isn't going to cut it.

-- Badtux the Laughing Penguin

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Bitter rain

As I type this, police officers are beating students in Berkeley. At least one student is lying bleeding on the ground and ambulances are being kept away by the police until the situation is "secured", whatever that means. Meanwhile, in Pennsylvania the Penn State students are rioting over the firing of Joe Paterno and the cops are just standing around with their nightsticks stuck up their asses, because hey, it's just kids letting off steam, it's not as if they were threatening the profits of the 1% or anything, right?

To say that I am disgusted beyond belief is an understatement. I cannot blog further on this tonight. So I will give you some bonus music that is all too fitting:

-- Badtux the Sickened Penguin

A non-response response

Some notes: Rugged Ridge is an importer of Chinese-manufactured Jeep parts. Bushwacker is an American company that claims you should buy their product because they're made in America. So who gives better customer service? Well, let's see: > ________________________________________
> From: Badtux
> Sent: Sunday, October 16, 2011 10:52 PM
> To: Customer Care
> Subject: Replacement of a single damaged component
> I have a LJ and flat flares. I ran the passenger front flare into a tree
> while offroading and crumpled it. No big deal, it's a Jeep, I just
> straightened it back out and screwed it back on with a bigger washer
> where the screw pulled through the flare and all is well. Except now I
> want to sell this Jeep and that flare looks wrinkled. Is there any way I
> can buy just that piece (the flat C-shaped piece)? Your retailers don't
> stock components, just whole sets, so they're no help here...

On Oct 17, 2011, at 9:21 AM, Customer Care wrote:

> Hi Badtux, Thank you for contacting Bushwacker. You can purchase a front pair from your local retailer. This is much better then purchasing a complete set of 4 flares.
> The part should be 10055-07 >

> Sincerely, >

> (redacted)
> Customer Care
> Bushwacker, Inc.
> Due to the large volumes of email we receive, please reply to all with history and keep your responses at the top of the email.

To: Bushwacker Customer Care:

Hello, thank you for your non-responsive response. I remembered that I had three members of a set of Rugged Ridge 7" oversize flares in storage and purchased the missing flare (ironically the same one -- passenger front) from Rugged Ridge via their vendor Quadratec, and am replacing your flares with the Rugged Ridge flares. Again, thank you for your lack of service.


BTW, the fender flare came in today -- the day after I ordered it, drop-shipped from Rugged Ridge. Yeppers, appears that the Chinese have better customer service than the Americans. So I should support the American company... why?

-- Badtux the Wrenchin' Penguin